The Get Down (Part II): Restoring Faith in Musical Television


Delving into part two of The Get Down on Netflix was met with a bit of trepidation, I must admit, but the reasoning is all because of my trust issues and bitter break-ups with music related shows on television.

You see, as a self-professed music lover, I had been down this road many times before. A much talked about TV drama surrounding the music industry and adjacent culture has, once again, come to grace our screens despite how many preceding shows have attempted and failed this very pursuit. Maybe I still haven’t gotten over the cancellations of shows like Vinyl and Roadies, stealing my heart with one season only to be cut short with the resounding blow of a network executive’s gavel.

Creators Baz Luhrmann and Stephen Guirgis deserve much credit for having made this show an on-demand exclusive two-part series to begin with. It must have been a wise and calculated decision in order to take viewers on a fast and wild ride without leaving its fate in the hands of a forced finale, or worse yet, a dreaded abrupt cancellation.

Knowing what I was getting myself into definitely made this show much more enjoyable; this was just a fling, a binge-watch romance that would end as quickly as it started, leaving me satisfied with fondness and good memories. Perhaps this creative duo has cracked the code to creating quality musical television that makes an impact without abandoning loyal viewers with nothing but plot holes and eternal emptiness (I swear, I’m not bitter). This is undeniably something future writers should take note of, not that I wouldn’t love a 10 season, decade-spanning show about rock n roll, but I digress…

Part two of The Get Down picks up right where it left off without skipping a beat, all to the familiar and enchanting voice of Nas, the narrator and impeccably smooth lyrical poet. One of the aspects that I really appreciate about the production is their ability to remain period appropriate with 70s hip-hop and disco fashion, décor and ultra funky vehicle interiors. Even the lighting in certain shots really gave the feeling of being present in an era without LED bulbs and 21st century minimalism. The well planned set placed you in the heart of the Bronx with the good, bad and the sometimes ugly aspects of New York City during a time of civil unrest and revolution. While I did notice that some of the dialogue included slang that is more relevant today than almost five decades ago, it gave this period piece a more contemporary vibe so it became less and less distracting as the episodes raged on.

Part one exhaustively helped us piece together the good guys and the bad guys, for the most part, leaving just enough ambiguity to make us second guess trusting certain main characters. The plot was running on all eight cylinders with many avenues that all lead back to our main character, Zeke Figuero, having to paddle through conflict upstream between his musical group, the love of his life and the prospect of Yale on the horizon with all of the familial pressure that comes along with becoming a young adult.

However, in part two, the plot segues were a bit shaky, leaving the hip hop narrative in the backseat to the impending drama of Mr. Cadillac, Fat Annie and Shaolin as well as Mylene and her overbearing father, Pastor Ramon, and did I also mention that Mylene’s mom is having an affair with Papa Fuerte, her husband’s brother, politician, community leader, record executive and, gasp- Mylene’s real father? But wait, there’s more! Actually, there’s a lot more. So much so that one could easily get lost in all of the different paths and plot lines.

Between focus on The Get Down Brothers, Mylene’s career with the Soul Madonnas and the many tribulations she faced with her father and record executives, the show essentially became a shell of itself in the beginning of part two. While I personally enjoyed all of the drama with my tub of popcorn, the show started to feel like a never ending telenovela versus a show that was based around the ins and outs of the music industry and rise of hip hop as we know it today.

While we were distracted by the dramatics happening within each character’s life, the many messages this show may have set out to spread were lost, especially as we approached the final few episodes where the storyline really put the pedal to the metal. Characters metaphorically and literally imploded with sudden self-revelations and life changing decisions very quickly in an almost avalanche-like path of destruction. Did it all happen too fast? For someone who isn’t as invested into the characters, I’d say the timing was just right. For those of us who would have liked to spend more time dissecting the many diabolical relationships involved and the various salacious exchanges between characters that ensued, we could have held on for a couple more episodes, at least.

So, this really begs the question, will there be a part three? They certainly left us with enough mental material at the end of part two to work with, and perhaps that’s why it ended so abruptly, like a truck flooring itself off the edge of a cliff. The writers are surely onto something with this show, and they could potentially take it further. If this series does return, I’d like to see a little bit more of a streamlined plot focus that isn’t so clouded by theatrics. Baz certainly has a signature style (a la Moulin Rouge) which makes for an exciting set that is alluring to the eye, but it would be good to match that intensity with a stronger and more refined story without all of the extra trimmings. With both Mylene and Zeke venturing off onto their own journeys in the final episode, it could cut down on a lot of the extra storylines and eliminate plot holes that were distracting.

Overall, this show exceeded my expectations and was worthy of a binge-watch, thus restoring my faith in shows about music. Although that musical plot wavered a bit, and involved some musical acts that went on for a couple minutes too long, as they all tend to do, the closing credits left us with the inspiring knowledge that soon after the final scene, the epic record “Rapper’s Delight” by Sugarhill Gang was released- an exciting conclusion that left us wanting more while also imagining where this story could go from here.

Written by: Lea Maric